The Pro Football Notebook

January 30, 2011 6:17 AM

What A Packer Win Would Mean To Wisconsin

PackerFans.jpgYesterday the Notebook looked at what a Steeler win would mean to the good people of Pittsburgh within the context of what their other teams are doing. Today we do the same for Green Bay. With the Packers being the only major pro sports franchise to play in such a small market, they're truly the state's team, so the "local market" is really the state market in this case.

MLB (Brewers): The Brewers have picked it up in recent years after a long stretch of uncompetitive baseball from 1992-2005. They began to move to around the .500 level in 2006-07, then picked up C.C. Sabathia for a four-month stint in 2008. Sabathia put on an epic performance down the stretch and put the franchise in the playoffs. After a couple seasons back at the .500 level, Milwaukee's made an offseason splash with the acquisition of Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. Can he become the second-most loved right arm in this market behind Aaron Rodgers?

NBA (Bucks): It's been a long time since the Bucks were really good. In the late 1980s when I was a high school student in the western suburbs of Milwaukee, this team was in the almost-not-quite-good-enough category as they couldn't get past the Celtics. They made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001 before losing in seven games. After more time in the wilderness they gave the Atlanta Hawks a spirited seven-game fight in last year's playoffs. But this year's been tough and if they make the playoffs it will only be because the East only has 4-5 teams really worthy of playing in late April.

College Football (Wisconsin): A great year for the Badgers, going 11-1, making the Rose Bowl and only coming up a play short against unbeaten TCU. It's been the latest of what has been some very successful college football played in Madison dating back to Barry Alvarez's arrival in the early 1990s. They've gone to four Rose Bowls over the past eighteen years and won three of them. If you're at Michigan, Penn State or Ohio State that gets you fired. At Wisconsin, a state without the huge reserves of high school talent those other states have, it's an amazing achievement. I'm biased, but I think Wisconsin's sustained success is one of the genuinely great stories in college football.

College Basketball (Wisconsin & Marquette): A lot of good college hoops is played in this state and we can add that UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay, right in the Packers' backyard are consistent contenders at the midmajor level. The Badgers and Golden Eagles are consistent NCAA Tournament teams and each has made a Final Four relatively recently (Wisconsin in 2000, Marquette in 2003). It's not going to be mistaken for North Carolina-Duke, but the rivalry is good and both programs are competitive.

If Green Bay were just any other team we can say there shouldn't be any abnormal hunger for a championship--I say "abnormal" because even normal hunger is going to be high, given how hard it is for a team to reach this level. But in the state of Wisconsin, the Packers are still the Packers. In the state of Vince Lombardi and Curley Lambeau (and one day we will again freely put Brett Favre in that list), it's God, Country and the Green Bay Packers.

Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary on the NFL playoffs and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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